Rebuttal to Schismatic Traditionalists (2)

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Continued from “Rebuttal to Schismatic Traditionalists (1)”



Better Than the “Sinners”


The schismatic traditionalists often feel that they are better than the sinners who have remained in the Catholic Church.  This triumphalistic attitude helps maintain a certain level of emotional high and enthusiasm which helps maintain unity in the group.[1]  Christ said to the Apostles, who the Pharisees and Scribes considered "sinners": "I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."[2]  Similar to the schismatic traditionalists, the Scribes and Pharisees habitually judged all those who did not follow all the rules and regulations that they followed.  The schismatic traditionalists express the presumption that perhaps those outside their group might be saved through invincible ignorance!  It takes a lot of humility and the grace of God to be able to come back to Holy Mother Church after having left her.  It also takes a lot humbleness and patience to put up with those priests and bishops who do not follow the teachings of the Church with the living Pope as their head.  Many leave the Church because of these scandals.


The schismatic traditionalists say: “Why doesn’t the Pope straighten out all the liberal bishops and priests?”  My response would be why did God the Father allow His only begotten son to die on the cross; He could have wiped out all the bad Jews in an instant!  Why does God the Father let those of bad will continue to live and to corrupt the Church?  Why did God give us a free will?  Is it not because God respects this great gift of our free wills here on earth in this temporary testing ground?  Looking at the history of the Church; why did it take so much time to fight or eradicate most of the heresies during the history of the Church?  Look how much St. Athenasius had to work and suffer in the early Church to fight the Arian heresy.  Why did not the Pope get rid of all the Arian bishops immediately?  We are not in heaven where all is perfect!  The Pope is just one man.  He needs the collaboration of others.  The Pope needs people to help him; he does not need those who abandon the Church when things are tough!  When Jesus was crucified there was only Mary, St. John and a few women who did not abandon Jesus at the foot of cross.  How many will continue to abandon Christ’s Body, the Church, in this period when many are re-crucifying the Body of Christ?  It should be pointed out also that the schismatic traditionalist groups have plenty of their own scandals, e.g., Francis Schuckardt and the CMRI, etc.  At the website of the CMRI one even reads: “Traditional Catholics inclined to condemn CMRI for its past ought to remember that no traditional Catholic organization — indeed, no human organization — is impeccable, unsullied by misdeeds or immune to occasional scandals.  The histories of SSPX, SSPV, ORCM, TCA, TCM or any organization in the traditionalist alphabet soup would turn soap opera writers into millionaires.”[3]


Many schismatic traditionalists use the excuse of scandalous priests and bishops as their justification and motive for leaving the Catholic Church.  But Christ loves all people, especially the sinners.  Christ was patient with sinners.  He did not give up hope and say: “I’m fed up with you sinners and hypocrites, go to hell!”  This is the reaction of many self-righteous traditionalists regarding scandalous priests or bishops.  Christ said to his disciples: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt 16:6).  But even though Jesus said to not follow their scandalous example he still said: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Mt 23:2-3).  God never abandons his people as we see clearly in the Old Testament.  So too God will never abandon his Church even if there are more scandalous and heretical bishops and priests than in the time of the Arian heresy.  The schismatic traditionalists do not have the patience and humility that Christ demanded of his disciples in regard to doing what the Pharisees and Scribes say but not what they do.  The schismatic traditionalists do not do what the lawful authorities of the Church say.


We, who were born and raised in the Catholic Church, will be far more culpable of not being in the Catholic Church than Protestants or people of the Eastern Orthodox Churches who were not born and raised in the Catholic Church!  “They could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it” (LG 14).



Pharisaical Leaven


One of the main goals of the Second Vatican Council was to overcome the rather strong pharisaical and sectarian tendencies in the Church in the past: Clericalism, Juridicalism and Triumphalism.[4]  The biggest obstacle for Christ 2000 years ago was not the sinners but the Pharisees and the Scribes who felt they were special and above the sinners and did not need Christ or His new Church which was precisely for sinners.  It is also interesting that the “Catholic” groups that have more of the pharisaical tendencies have the most difficult time with the documents of the Second Vatican Council!  The Pharisees and Scribes were in effect "traditionalists" in that they held to the laws of the past but were not open to the newness that Jesus Christ had to say and to offer.  The Pharisees and Scribes put themselves above Christ, above God!  “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt 16:6; Mk 8:15; Lk 12:1).  “Likewise, the Church, although she needs human resources to carry out her mission, is not set up to seek earthly glory, but to proclaim, and this by her own example, humility and self-denial” (LG 8).


The document on New Religious Movements points out: “Before the Second Vatican Council there seemed to be more vocations perhaps in part due to the greater social and prestigious advantages which thus attracted a certain percentage of young vocations due to certain non virtuous premises or at least immature motives.  Thirty to forty years ago, to become a priest meant for many the opportunity to rise out of anonymity and become part of the elite.  Now it seems that many groups who have attempted to keep or revive this triumphalistic or elitist attitude have often attracted more vocations.  Some of these groups became more hardened in this seeming subtle form of pride and end up outside the Church as Lefebvre’s group and numerous other smaller groups have done.  But others have become more ecclesial and properly ecumenically minded in the true spirit of the council.”[5]


Many members of communities in the mainline Churches today feel comfortable in their static traditions but often do not reach out to others in a way that the others would feel attracted and more comfortable.  This is a fundamental reason for the Church’s loss of vast numbers of Catholics world wide to various sects according to the Vatican document on "New Religious Movements".


"Almost all the responses (from the Regional and National Episcopal Conferences world wide, October, 1985) appeal for a rethinking (at least in many local situations) of the traditional "parish community system"; a search for community patterns which will be more fraternal, more "to the measure of man", more adapted to people’s life situation; more "basic ecclesial communities": caring communities of lively faith, love (warmth, acceptance, understanding, reconciliation, fellowship), and hope; celebrating communities; praying communities; missionary communities: outgoing and witnessing; communities open to the supporting people who have special problems: the divorced and "remarried", the marginalized.”[6]  Is this not what the early Christians did? (see:


There is often the lack of distinguishing between the sin and the sinner.  The Church loves the sinner but hates the sin.  Many accuse the Church of hating the homosexuals because many do not make the distinction that the Church, as does Christ, loves the person with homosexual tendencies but hates the act of homosexuality.  The Pharisees and Scribes were scandalized because Christ sought to help the publicans, tax collectors and prostitutes; but Christ did say to the prostitute “go and sin no more.”[7]  So too the schismatic traditionalists are scandalized because the Second Vatican Council teaches the importance of an honest desire to acknowledge and appreciate the true and the good in other non-Catholic Christians both as individuals and as collective bodies, “particular Churches” (see also UR 3).


Schismatic traditionalists say: “Well what’s the use of becoming a Catholic if the other “Churches” are recognized Churches?”[8]  In the Catholic Church one can truly point to one place to find the fullness of truth of Divine Revelation and saving "elements of sanctification" (LG 8) by which the faithful may be configured to Christ.  It took several centuries even for the Catholic Church to overcome an anti-protestant self identification after the Council of Trent.[9]  With the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church finally overcame this immature negative self identification.  True ecumenism also includes the desire and honesty to acknowledge and appreciate the true and the good in other churches and groups, instead of only concentrating on our differences, as many members of the Church tended to do in the past.  VCII was a call to the Church to rediscover her calling to serve as the humble servant of Christ to help all those “of the truth”[10] to make it to heaven; traditionalists still need this negative, anti-protestant and anti-sinner mentality to identify themselves.  The Church, while still asserting that "the one and only Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church”, added the significant admission that "many elements of sanctification can be found outside the Church’s total structure," and that these are "things properly belonging to the Church of Christ” (LG 8).  Often many people need a common enemy (“heretics” or sinners) to be motivated and unified or to maintain their enthusiasm, or to be reinforced in their own (insecure?!) self identification.  The lack of enemies tends to disrupt the homeostasis of the group.[11]  Sometimes people form a type of comparative self religion in which they feel more holy if they compare themselves with others that they condemn or at least judge as less holy than themselves.  Almost invariably the traditionalists tend to criticized all those not in their group so that they feel holy and better than the others, instead of comparing themselves only with Jesus Christ.  It is so easy and such a strong human temptation and tendency to seek to observe and dwell on the faults and abuses of a lawful superior. After dwelling on these so-called faults and abuses of bishops and priests over a period of time along with listening to and hearing support from our agreeable peers and (busy-body?) ‘friends’, is it any wonder that when we receive a hard and disagreeable command from this superior that we are able to easily disregard and subjectively justify disobedience to such a command?  It is interesting that just about all the schismatic traditionalists do not like the fact that the Church now loves and prays with sinners and non-Catholics.  Was this not the same reaction of the Pharisees and Scribes when Jesus loved and ate with sinners and non-Jews?  Christ said to Pilate: “Every one who is of the truth hears my voice”.[12]  People “of the truth” are not found only in the Catholic Church!  We should rejoice in the good of others even if they are not members of “our Church” or group.[13]  I think one can draw more people to the truth using honey (love) rather than vinegar (judgment and condemnation).


It seems to me also that the schismatic traditionalists have a similar attitude as that of the older son in the parable of the Prodigal’s Son.[14]  The elder son did not love his father even though he followed all the rules and felt he was better that his younger prodigal brother.  The elder son enumerated all that he did for his father: “These many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command”, as if this was the true measure of righteousness or holiness or claim to his father’s benefits or love.  But the elder son did not have a personal relationship of love with his father; the father wanted his heart, not so much his works or that the elder son follows all the rules.  Just as the elder son condemned his younger brother: “But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!”, so too the schismatic traditionalists abhor the fact that the Church in VCII expressed her ecumenical openness and love for non-Catholics.  The schismatic traditionalists have a very difficult time rejoicing with the father who, while his prodigal son was yet at a distance, he “saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”  The father said to the elder son: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.  It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”  Do the schismatic traditionalists truly believe that God is love and that God loves each and every person on the face of this earth immensely?  Would such a God abandon millions of his beloved creatures throughout the world, especially in these most difficult times, depriving them of his life giving sacraments?  What kind of a God do the schismatic traditionalists believe in?  Is their religion based on this immense love of Jesus for each of us and a personal response to this love, or rather is it based on a type of religiosity devoid of true love that we find with the elder son and among other groups in the Sacred Scriptures?  I sincerely wonder if many schismatic traditionalists have ever experienced in a personal way God’s infinite love and mercy for each of us.  If one has experienced this divine love and mercy and has a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, would not he be less prone to have a critical and judgmental spirit toward others and even rejoice with the Father and with the Church for the good in other persons and in other Churches, religions or groups with other beliefs just as the father did with his prodigal son?  God is the Father of all men and women, not just Catholics.  As our catechism tells us that God created each person so that he might know, love and serve Him and be happy with Him in heaven for all eternity!



The Second Vatican Council


Often Church documents of the past, before the Second Vatican Council, were too little ecumenical and too much inspired by an anti-Protestant Catholicism.


Pope John XXIII, during his address at the solemn opening (October 11, 1962) of the Second Vatican Council, pointed out to the council Fathers: "The Church has always opposed these errors.  Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity.  Nowadays, however, the spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.  She considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations."…"The substance of the ancient doctrine of the Deposit of Faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another.  And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character."[15]


"The work (the first drafts of VCII) showed little awareness of modern problems, it was said, and offered little more than weary repetitions of well-known utterances from the First Vatican Council.  The ecumenical perspective was lacking.  It was weighted on the side of Church authority and Church privileges and was very light on the duties and calling of the Church in our times.  Its concern was for the juridical and clerical aspects of the Church, while it showed little feeling for the humility and servanthood of the Church.  Generally, it betrayed what was called an `introverted ecclesiology.’  It conveyed the image of a Church concerned with itself instead of directing its sights outward to the world and to the separated brethren."[16]


"Yesterday, said Bishop Elchinger, the Church was considered above all as an institution, today it is experienced as a community.  Yesterday it was the Pope who was mainly in view, today the Pope is thought of as united to the bishops.  Yesterday the bishop alone was considered, today all the bishops together.  Yesterday theology stressed the importance of the hierarchy; today it is discovering the people of God.  Yesterday it was chiefly concerned with what divided; today it voices all that unites.  Yesterday the theology of the Church was mainly preoccupied with the inward life of the Church, today it sees the Church as orientated to the outside world."[17]


"The manifold Catholic attack against triumphalism goes hand in glove with a desire to sustain the spirituality of the Church.  This is one of the essential elements of the new ecclesiological way of thinking apparent at the council.  It wanted no new dogma, no new definition of the Church that would clarify everything.  Rather, with the hierarchy in mind in a most existential sense, it was a summons to complete and utter humility.  The Church was being told to remember that it followed the Lord who came not to be served but to serve.”[18]



Continued in “Rebuttal to Schismatic Traditionalists (3)”


[1] See the article ‘A Psychological Analysis of a Cult at Necedah, Wisconsin’.  See also

[2] Mt 5:20

[3] On July 1, 1988 the Vatican Congregation for Bishops issued a decree that declared the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre for consecrating four bishops without papal permission. A day later, on July 2, 1988, Pope John Paul II issued his apostolic letter ‘Ecclesia Dei’ on the matter.

The following are excerpts: “In itself, this act [that is, the unlawful consecration of four bishops by Msgr. Lefebvre] was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience—which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy—constitutes a schismatic act. In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on June 17, Msgr. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law. . . . “

“In the present circumstances, I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law. (Faith Fact: "Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X," p. 1, from Catholics United for the Faith.).

In 1983, nine sedevacantist priests were expelled from the SSPX after clashing with Archbishop Lefebvre over the Society’s relationship with the "Conciliar" Church ("Habemus papam?", Karl Keating. ‘This Rock’ magazine, July/August 1995, p. 14).

Subsequently, those nine priests formed their own religious congregation, calling it the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV). The Rev. Clarence Kelly was chosen to be their leader. Within a short time there were disputes about property ownership, which resulted in yet another schism. Kelly continues to lead the SSPV (headquartered in New York), and the Rev. Daniel Dolan leads the off-shoot faction (headquartered in Ohio). Ibid. p. 14. Both Dolan and Kelly are now "bishops." Dolan’s uncanonical consecration is ultimately derived from the retired and possibly senile Archbishop of Hue, Ngo Dinh Thuc. Kelly was secretly consecrated by the late Alfred F. Mendez, who was a retired bishop of Puerto Rico. Additional sedevacantist groups are located in Spokane, Washington (Mount St. Michael), Michigan, and Colorado.

Ultimately, schismatic traditionalists encounter the same problem as do the Protestants: because they have separated themselves from the one, true Church founded by Jesus Christ on Peter and his successors, they will always find themselves in a state of spiritual chaos.

There really is only a minor distinction between the sedevacantists and the Lefebvrites: the sedevacantists believe outright that John Paul II and his three predecessors were, in effect, antipopes because they followed the "heretical" reforms of Vatican II; the Lefebvrites, on the other hand, are schizophrenic about this. Lefebvrites purport to accept that Benedict XVI is Pope, but they vociferously ridicule him and do not submit to his authority.

[4] See the article “The Impact and Interpretation of ‘Subsists In’ (Vatican II)” as well as

[5] The Vatican document, “Sects or New Religious Movements: Pastoral Challenge", 1986.  See also

[6] ‘Sects or New Religious Movements: Pastoral Challenge’, L’Osservatore Romano, N. 20, May 19, 1986, p. 5.

[7] Jn 8:11.

[8] See questions 3 and 5 in the article “Ecclesiology of the Catholic Church”; see also ‘Francis A. Sullivan’ in the article “The Impact and Interpretation of ‘Subsists In’ (Vatican II)”.  See also AGD 19.

[9] Yves Congar points out an important attitude (so prevalent in the past) that must be rejected: "In no way does the "conversion" of our separated brethren involve an impoverishment or a repudiation of such riches as they already possess.  Negations alone must be denied, and this precisely in order that all the positive values of Christianity may be affirmed.  For the same reasons, we Catholics cannot regard it as a matter for rejoicing when we see our Protestant or Orthodox brethren weakening in their faith, becoming victims of religious indifference or doctrinal discord.  To wish for these things to happen, or to take pleasure in them, would imply that we view them solely from the standpoint of the system rather than that of the life.  Certainly we do not wish to see Protestantism go on for ever: because we believe it to be a false system we would wish rather to see its end.  We are most emphatically desirous that our Protestant brethren should be reunited to us and in this way, as we say, become "converts."  But we cannot directly wish that their faith, however impoverished it may be, should become still further impoverished and weakened, for such impoverishment and weakening is an evil in itself, and it is never lawful for us to will what is evil in itself.  Whatsoever there is of genuine Christianity among Protestants belongs by right to the Church, and any loss of supernatural life is, to that extent, a loss to the Church", M. J. Congar, Divided Christendom (Geoffrey Bles: The Centenary Press, London, 1939), p. 239.

[10] Jn 18:37.

[11] See the article ‘A Psychological Analysis of a Cult at Necedah, Wisconsin’.  See also

[12] Jn 18:37.

[13] See UR 4 and Note P in the appendix of the article “The Impact and Interpretation of ‘Subsists In’ (Vatican II)”.

[14] Lk 15:11-32.

[15] Floyd Anderson, ed., Council Daybook – Vatican II (Session 1, Oct. 11 to Dec. 8, 1962, Session 2, Sept. 29 to Dec 4, 1963) (National Catholic Welfare Conference (Pub.), Washington, D.C., 1965), p. 27 (also cf. Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (Herder & Herder, N.Y., 1968), vol 1 , p. 108).  Also see Giovanni Caprile, a cura di, Il Concilio Vaticano II (Cronache del Concilio Vaticano II edite da "La Civilta’ Cattolica") (Secondo Periodo (1963-1964), Vol III; Edizione "La Civilta’ Cattolica", Roma, 1966), pp. 29-30 and p. 40.

[16] G. C. Berkouwer, The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965), pp. 178-179.

[17] Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (Herder & Herder, N.Y., 1968), vol 1, p. 108.

[18] (Mk 10:45), G. C. Berkouwer, The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965), p. 184.

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